“Guachinche” is the term used by the locals to refer to traditional rustic bars where Canarian food and wine are served at unbeatable prices. These venues are widely known, frequented and revered by all islanders. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that. Spread all over the island, they are particularly common on the North side, especially in the towns of Tacoronte, La Matanza and La Victoria de Acentejo, Tegueste, La Orotava, El Sauzal or Los Realejos.
The guachinches were originally the stalls that farmers and cattle breeders put together during certain times of the year in order to sell their produce – namely, Malvasia wines – directly to British buyers and to the locals afterwards.
It is believed that the term “guachinche”, as it is spelled in Tenerife, or “bochinche” in Gran Canaria, might well derive from the English I’m watching you! This would refer to the British buyer telling the farmer that they were ready to try the products in offer. Most times, these buying and selling would take place in a room within the family house, where home-grown wine was served with some traditional tapas such as a chickpea stew (garbanzas), rabitt casserole (conejo en salmorejo), marinated pork stew (carne de fiesta), stuffed courgettes (bubangos rellenos) or papas con mojo.
This custom, once a trading strategy conceived by the vine growers as a means of selling their products, soon became a tradition deeply rooted amongst Tenerife’s people, and “guachinches” thus became a culinary symbol of the island. Modern comforts aside, guachinches are all about a rustic, modest feeling and amazing food wrapped up in a family-friendly atmosphere, visitors will surely want to come back for seconds.
In recent years, many websites have been created revolving around these traditional bars to help find detailed descriptions and location info about each bar. There is also a free mobile phone app called the “guachapp” that allows the user to easily track down guachinches in the area.
In August 2013, a comprehensive set of rules was put into place to control the activity of these bars, including the number of different dishes each venue has permission to serve, and establishing a limit in the origin of the home-grown wine.